Wenn Forscher die Muse küsst

9. Dezember 2012 von Laborjournal

Ungewöhnliche Abbildungen in Forschungsartikeln hatten wir gerade erst als Thema in diesem Blog. Was aber ist mit Poesie in Forschungsblättern? Schon klar, dafür sind sie nicht da. Dennoch aber hat das Oxford Journal Systematic Biology kürzlich damit angefangen — und frisch das folgende Gedicht „The Tree of Life“ von David R. Maddison, Zoologe an der Oregon State University in Corvallis, veröffentlicht:

The Tree of Life

I think that I shall never see
A thing so awesome as the Tree
That links us all in paths of genes
Down into depths of time unseen;

Whose many branches spreading wide
House wondrous creatures of the tide,
Ocean deep and mountain tall,
Darkened cave and waterfall.

Among the branches we may find
Creatures there of every kind,
From microbe small to redwood vast,
From fungus slow to cheetah fast.

As glaciers move, strikes asteroid
A branch may vanish in the void:
At Permian’s end and Tertiary’s door,
The Tree was shaken to its core.

The leaves that fall are trapped in time
Beneath cold sheets of sand and lime;
But new leaves sprout as mountains rise,
Breathing life anew ‘neath future skies.

On one branch the leaves burst forth:
A jointed limb of firework growth.
With inordinate fondness for splitting lines,
Armored beetles formed myriad kinds.

Wandering there among the leaves,
In awe of variants Time conceived,
We ponder the shape of branching fates,
And elusive origins of their traits.

Three billion years the Tree has grown
From replicators’ first seed sown
To branches rich with progeny:
The wonder of phylogeny.

Wenn David Madison nicht dichtet, koordiniert er unter anderem das weltweite Tree Of Life web project.

Aber abgesehen davon: Gibt es noch mehr Beispiele für Poesie in Forschungsblättern? Und wie geht es inzwischen eigentlich P.H. Metrius?

Schlagworte: , , , , ,

4 Gedanken zu „Wenn Forscher die Muse küsst“

  1. Ralf Neumann sagt:

    Zwar nicht in einem offiziellen Journal, aber auf seinem Blog it is NOT junk veröffentlichte Michael Eisen, Molekularbiologe an der University of California, Berkeley, und Mitbegründer des Open Access-Verlags Public Library of Science (PLoS), gerade das folgende Gedicht:

    The Tangled Bank

    Contemplate a tangled bank
    Clothed with many kinds of plant
    Insects and birds flitting about
    Worms crawling through the damp

    Reflect that these elaborate
    And differently constructed forms
    Have been produced by such a simple set
    Of ever acting norms

    Growth, reproduction and inheritance
    Variation to transmit
    Natural selection then leading to
    Extinction of the less fit

    From the war of nature
    From famine and from death
    Follow the most exalted species
    To have ever drawn a breath

    There is grandeur in this view of life
    And its powers not yet gone
    Having been originally breathed
    Into a few forms or just one

    From as simple a beginning
    As could ever be resolved
    Endless forms most beautiful
    Are continuously evolved.

    Interessant: Eisen „übersetzte“ hiermit den letzten Absatz von Darwins „Origin of Species, den er sowieso für „the most poetic thing ever written about nature“ hält, in Versform. Hier Darwins Original:

    It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

  2. Hans Zauner sagt:

    Zum Thema „Wenn Forscher die Muse küsst“ fällt mir immer das grossartige Gedicht des Evolutionsbiologen und Exzentrikers JBS Haldane ein, geschrieben 1964 nachdem er mit Darmkrebs diagnostiziert wurde:

    Cancer’s a Funny Thing

    I wish I had the voice of Homer
    To sing of rectal carcinoma,
    Which kills a lot more chaps, in fact,
    Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked.

    Yet, thanks to modern surgeon’s skills,
    It can be killed before it kills
    Upon a scientific basis
    In nineteen out of twenty cases.

    I noticed I was passing blood
    (Only a few drops, not a flood).
    So pausing on my homeward way
    From Tallahassee to Bombay
    I asked a doctor, now my friend,
    To peer into my hinder end,
    To prove or to disprove the rumour
    That I had a malignant tumour.
    They pumped in BaS04.
    Till I could really stand no more,
    And, when sufficient had been pressed in,
    They photographed my large intestine,
    In order to decide the issue
    They next scraped out some bits of tissue.
    (Before they did so, some good pal
    Had knocked me out with pentothal,
    Whose action is extremely quick,
    And does not leave me feeling sick.)
    The microscope returned the answer
    That I had certainly got cancer,
    So I was wheeled into the theatre
    Where holes were made to make me better.
    One set is in my perineurn
    Where I can feel, but can’t yet see ‘em.
    Another made me like a kipper
    Or female prey of Jack the Ripper,
    Through this incision, I don’t doubt,
    The neoplasm was taken out,
    Along with colon, and lymph nodes
    Where cancer cells might find abodes.
    A third much smaller hole is meant
    To function as a ventral vent:
    So now I am like two-faced Janus
    The only* god who sees his anus.

    *In India there are several more
    With extra faces, up to four,
    But both in Brahma and in Shiva
    I own myself an unbeliever.

    I’ll swear, without the risk of perjury,
    It was a snappy bit of surgery.
    My rectum is a serious loss to me,
    But I’ve a very neat colostomy,
    And hope, as soon as I am able,
    To make it keep a fixed time-table.
    So do not wait for aches and pains
    To have a surgeon mend your drains;
    If he says “cancer” you’re a dunce
    Unless you have it out at once,
    For if you wait it’s sure to swell,
    And may have progeny as well.
    My final word, before I’m done,
    Is “Cancer can be rather fun”.
    Thanks to the nurses and Nye Bevan
    The NHS is quite like heaven
    Provided one confronts the tumour
    With a sufficient sense of humour.
    I know that cancer often kills,
    But so do cars and sleeping pills;
    And it can hurt one till one sweats,
    So can bad teeth and unpaid debts.
    A spot of laughter, I am sure,
    Often accelerates one’s cure;
    So let us patients do our bit
    To help the surgeons make us fit.

  3. Ralf Neumann sagt:

    Mittlerweile gibt es doch eine durchaus satttliche Zahl von Forschern, die einen eigenen Blog betreiben (wenn auch insbesondere in UK und den USA — siehe auch Kommentar 1). Und da können die Betreffenden ihren poetischen Talenten natürlich freien Lauf lassen. Ken Weiss beispielsweise ist Professor für Anthropologie und Genetik an der Penn State University sowie gleichsam ein Drittel des lesenswerten Blogs „the mermaid’s tale“. Und dort veröffentlichte er gerade folgende, ganz eigene Adaption des Gedichts „‚Twas the night before Christmas“ von Clement Clarke Moore aus dem Jahr 1823:

    ‚Twas the night before Christmas

    ‚Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    Not a lab-tech was stirring, nor even a mouse;
    The grant had been written with meticulous care,
    In hopes that the funding soon would be there;

    The mice all in cages were snug in their beds,
    While visions of pellet food danced in their heads;
    The post-docs and students, with notes in their laps,
    Had just nodded off for unauthorized naps,

    When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
    I sprang from my bench to see what was the matter.
    Away to the window I flew like a flash,
    Tossed on my lab coat and tightened the sash.

    The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
    Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    But the boss of the lab, a professor not dear,

    With inquisitive glances, so lively and quick,
    I knew in a moment it was a lab-check.
    More rapid than eagles his paces they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called us by name;

    „Now, DASCHLE! now, DANZIG! now, PONTZER and NIXON!
    On, COMER! on COOPER! on, CONNOR and HIXSON!
    Snap out of your doze, don’t continue to stall!
    Now work away! work away! work away all!“

    He knew not that our gels had defied PCR,
    And failed to yield meaningful sequence so far,
    So back to our toiling (with cursing) we flew,
    With our Eppendorf tubes, and our pipetters, too.

    And then, in a twinkling, I dreamed up my ‘proof’,
    Carefully covering each little goof,
    In results that he needed, and was turning around,
    As into the lab the Prof came with a bound.

    He was sweating in fury, from his head to his foot,
    A smoker, his clothes were tarnished with ashes and soot;
    A sackful of reprints he had flung on his back,
    And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

    His eyes — how they squinted! his wrinkles a-worry!
    His cheeks were all pasty, his nose like a cherry!
    A drool from his mouth dripped down in a flow,
    With a visage of terror as white as the snow;

    The deadline approaching, he tight-gritted his teeth,
    And horror belikened his head to a wraith;
    He had a proud face and a little round belly,
    That were he not Funded would quiver like jelly.

    When he’s fattened with grants, a right jolly old elf,
    (And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself).
    A glaze in his eye and a twist of his head,
    Soon gave me to know he was living in dread;

    He spoke not a word, but he’d dreamt that his work,
    Had filled all his wishes–til he’d waked with a jerk,
    And realizing what happened and snorting his nose,
    As somberly nodding, from this reverie he rose:

    That he’d sprung to his mailbox, where erupted a tear,
    The envelope opened—and we’d all heard him swear,
    “The grant will be funded! The budget’s all right!

  4. Gofmann sagt:

    Bei diesen Zeilen, behauen mit Beilen und vollendet mit Feilen, will ich nun verweilen.

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